Hop Dryers

Bailer Farm Hop Dryer

Hop ‘House’ or Dryer, Bailer Farm, San Juan Island

There was apparently some hop production in San Juan County, for the 1890 Federal Census of Agriculture reported 14 acres in production, yielding 18,200 pounds.  A very specific instance of hop production on San Juan Island is known, with an attendant hop drier.  During the 1890s, two farmers in San Juan Valley raised hops, one of them being the Bailer Family near Bailer Hill.  There is an historic photo of a hop “house” or drier, with its distinctive form; this structure is no longer extant.

Hop houses constructed in the Pacific Northwest were generally square in plan, with a distinctive, steeply pitched pyramidal roof topped by a cupola or ventilator.  Inside, furnaces or stoves on the ground floor created warm air that rose through a slatted floor (the ‘drying room’) upon which the hops were laid on the second floor, and thence through the shaft in the roof.  In a shed or adjacent structure, the hops were cooled in a upper story ‘storing room’ and then compressed into bales or boxes in a ground floor ‘press room’.

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